I’m a reformer, writer and Labour peer who was Minister for Schools and Transport Secretary under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
I was born in London in 1963 and educated at Kingham Hill School, a boarding school in Oxfordshire. I studied history at Keble College, Oxford, followed by a PhD in modern history and a fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, when I was also elected to Oxford City Council (from 1987 to 1991).
I was a journalist at the Financial Times for five years (1991-96) before moving to the Observer as a political columnist. I joined Tony Blair’s Number 10 policy staff in 1998, first as education adviser then, after 2001, as Head of the Policy Unit.
I was Minister for Schools from May 2005 until October 2008, Minister of State for Transport from October 2008 until June 2009, and Secretary of State for Transport from June 2009 until May 2010. I was one of Labour’s negotiating team with the Liberal Democrats in the post-election hung parliament negotiations.